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Wigan History

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1800
A Bad Winter Brings Famine And Riotin To The Streets Of Wigan.
1801
Wigan Borough Census Population 10,989.
1811
Wigan Borough Census Population 14,060.
1812
Luddites From Atherton Attack A New Mill In Westhoughton Smashing The Power Looms And Burning The Factory. Four People, One A Boy Of 14, Were Charged And Hanged At Lancaster.
1819
• Unspecified Rioting In Wigan Over Something Or Other.
• A Spur Of The Leeds Liverpool Canal Opens From Wigan To Leigh- Joining With The Bridgewater Canal.
1821
Wigan Borough Census Population 17,716.
1822
Two Roman Urns Containing Bones Were Found During Excavations For The Foundations Of The Wigan Gas Works.
1827
Work Begins On Building The Current Haigh Hall Using Stone From Parbold Quarry.
1827
The Worlds First Railway Death Occurs Just Outside Lowton When Liverpudlian MP William Huskisson Is Mown Down By George Stevensons 'The Rocket'. (15th September)
1828
The Worlds First Public Railway Between Leigh And Bolton Opens. (15th September)
1830
The First Miners Union- The Colliers Union Forms.
1831
• Wigan Borough Census Population 20,774.
• Wigan Members Of The Colliers Union Strike For Higher Pay.
1832
• The Fourteenth Charter Of Wigan Is Granted By King William IV. (16th February)
• Wigan Gets Its First Railway Line And Railway Station- Wigan North Western. (3rd September)
1835
Wigan Is Included In The Municipal Corporation Act And Becomes A Municipal Borough. (September 9th)
1836
The Fifteenth Charter Of Wigan Is Granted By King William IV. (10th June)
1837
A Number Of Various Bronze Roman Coins Are Discovered Near The Town Centre.
1838
The North Union Railway Between Wigan And Preston Fully Opens. This Now Forms Part Of The West Coast Mainline. (April 25)
1839
More Luddite Rioting, This Time In Leigh. It Occurred At The Old Site Of The Leigh Obelisk.
1840
Construction Of The Current Haigh Hall Finish.
1841
Wigan Borough Census Population 25,517.
1846
Restoration Of Wigan Parish Church Uncovers An Old Roman Alter Beneath The High Alter, Workmen Use It As Part Of The Tower Wall.
1848
• Wigan Parish Church Reopens After Restoration Work. (7th January)
• The Liverpool, Wigan And Bury Railway Line Fully Opens. (28th November)
1849
Wigan Parish Church Was Completely Rebuilt In The Original Style, Except For The Tower And Walmesley Chapel.
1850
A Rare Roman Coin Featuring Emperor Vitellius Is Found In The Mesnes- Known As 'The Glutton' For His Immense Greed He Only Ruled For A Few Months In AD 69- 10yrs Before Romans Arrived At Wigan.
1851
Wigan Borough Census Population 31,941.
1852
Riots In Scholes Largely Involving The Irish Element In The Population Severely Tax The Forces Of Law And Order.
1853
• Wigan Observer Established. Until Now The Only Local Paper Was The Wigan Times. (1st January)
• Wigan Is Given Its Own Health District Under The Public Health Act. (10th June)
1855
• Wigan To Southport Railway Line Opened. (9th April)
• Wigan Council Takes Over Wigan Water Works. (22nd June)
1856
• Wigan Cemetery Opened. (1st September)
• Lower Ince Cemetery Opened.
1857
The Wigan School Of Mining Opens.
1861
Wigan Borough Census Population 37,658.
1865
Wigan Coal And Iron Company Founded. (1st July)
1867
Town Council Meets In The New Borough Court. (18th December)
1868
Moot Hall, Wigan's Old Town Hall, Is Demolished.
1870
Foundation Stone Of The Royal Albert Edward Infirmary Laid. (26th December)
1871
Wigan Borough Census Population 39,110.
1872
• Coop's Clothing Factory Opened In Dorning Street.
• Wigan Rugby League Football Club Formed, Plays Its First Game At Folley Field.
1873
The Prince Of Wales Opened The Royal Albert Edward Infirmary. (4th June)
1874
Wigan Council Decide To Take Over The Gas Works, It Is Bought By Them The Next Year.
1876
The Public Libraries Act Is Adopted In Wigan. (27th October)
1877
• The New Market Hall Was Opened By The Mayor Alderman Mayhew.
• Wigan Free Library Is Presented To The Town By Thomas Taylor. (16th October)
1878
• Wigan Free Library Is Opened By Mayor Alderman Mayhew. (6th May)
• The Mesnes Park Was Opened By The High Sheriff Of Lancashire N. Eckersley, Esq. (6th August)
1880
Wigan First Steam Tram Comes Into Service That July.
1881
• Wigan Borough Census Population 48,192.
• Public Baths And Wash-Houses Acts Adopted By Wigan Council. (2nd February)
1882
Wigan Public Baths Opened By Mayor Hopwood. (29th May)
1884
A Time Capsule Is Buried Under The Wigan Drill Hall. (21st June)
1887
Wigan's Mayoral Garments Are Changed From Purple Cloth To Scarlet Silk A Sign Of Wigan's Growing Wealth And Importance. (8th November)
1888
• Parliament Announces Wigan Would Become A County Borough. (8th June)
• Wigan Announces Its Plans For A "Greater Wigan" To Take In All Out Lying Districts. (3rd October)
1889
• Wigan Becomes A County Borough. (1st April)
Wigan's New Sanatorium Is Opened. (10th October)
1890
Wigan Philharmonic Society Formed. (25th September)
1892
Wigan Central Train Station Opens. The River Douglas Was Diverted To Accommodate It.
1893
• A Soup Kitchen Is Opened In Leigh To Feed Starving Miners.
• The Wigan Corporation Act Is Given Royal Assent And Wigan Corporation Comes Into Being.
1894
William Santus And Wife Ellen Start Making Home-Made Mint Balls In Their Acton Street Home.
1895
Leigh Rugby League Football Club Forms.
1897
Victoria Park In Ashton-In-Makebelieve Is Opened. (24th July)
1898
The Prince Of Wales (Soon To Become King Edward VII) Visits Wigan. (18th May)
1899
Leigh Receives A Charter From Queen Victoria Making It A Municipal Borough Like Wigan- Before This Leigh Was England's Largest UDC. (2nd August)
1900
• Foundation Stone Of Wigan's Electric Light And Power Station Laid. (4th January)
• Wigan's Electric Light And Power Station Is Switched On & Begins Powering Wigan. (19th December)
1901
• Wigan Borough Census Population 89,152.
• Wigan's First Narrow Gauge Electric Trams Come Into Service. (25th January)
1902
• Leigh Gets Its First Electric Trams. (28th September)
• Wigan Corporation Buys The Wigan & District Tramways Undertaking. (30th September)
1904
Pemberton District Added To The Wigan Borough. (21st April)
Wigan's First Standard Gauge Electric Trams Come Into Service. (24th July)
1904
Last Steam Tram Ran On The Orrell Section Of The Wigan Tramlines. (26th September)
1904
Buffalo Bill And His Wild West Show Arrive To Perform Near Leigh, 700 Performers Some Of Which Actually Fought At Custers Last Stand In 1876 Entertain 10,000 Spectators. (8th October)
1905
Extensive Mining Subsidence Creates Pennington Flash.
1906
Ashton's Carnegie Library Opens.
1907
Pemberton's Carnegie Library Opens.
1908
At About 5pm The Maypole Colliery Disaster In Abram Kills 76 Miners When Gases Explode With Such Violence Buildings At The Pit Head Are Levelled, It Is Felt Across The Borough. (18th August)
1909
Wigan's First Motorised Fire Engine Comes Into Service. (12th August)
1910
The Earl Of Derby Unveils The Statue Of Sir Francis Sharp Powell In Mesnes Park. (19th November)
One Of Coal Mining's Biggest Ever Disasters 350 Men Die In Pretoria Pit Near Atherton. (21st December)
1911
Wigan's Parish Grounds Are Opened To The Public For The First Time.
1912
31,932 Miners Recorded Working In Wigan.
Wigan Miners Join A Lancastrian Strike Against Pay Cuts. (1st March)
1913
Their Majesties King George & Queen Mary Visit Wigan And Surrounding Towns. (10th July)
1917
A Workshop For The Blind Is Opened In Wigan.
1918
A Zeppelin Drops 27 Bombs On Wigan. (12th April)
1921
The Prince Of Wales (Soon To Become King Edward VIII) Visits Wigan. (8th July)
1922
• A New Coat Of Arms Granted To Wigan.
• Wigan YMCA Opened By HRH Princess Helena Victoria. (5th December)
1923
Wigan's Last Narrow Gauge Tram Runs To Aspull. (15th June)
1925
Trolley Bus Service Begins, Taking People To Martland Mill. (7th May)
1926
• 137 Silver Roman Coins Are Discovered In Boars Head.
• Wiganers Are Amongst The 1st To Break The General Strike Earning The Name Humble Pie Eaters.
1927
Total Eclipse Of Sun Visible In Wigan And Across Lancashire. (27th June)
1928
Wigan Miners Get Their First Paid Holiday. (1st August)
1929
Wigan's Electoral Role Includes Women For The First Time. (1st May)
1930
• The Original Wigan Pier Oft A Music Hall Joke Is Demolished. Nowadays Its Replacement Is Supporting The Wiganese Economy.
1930
• Wigan's First Electric Traffic Signals At The Standishgate & Mesnes St Junction. (23rd July)
• Wigan's First Petrol Omnibus Service, Takes People To Ashton-In-Makebelieve. (1st December)
1931
The Last Electric Tram Ran Along The Standish And Orrell Sections Of The Wigan Tramline. (28th March)
1932
• Wigan Athletic Formed.
• The Prince Of Wales Visits Wigan And Opens Two Clubs For The Unemployed. (23rd November)
1933
The Mayor Opens Wigan's Automatic Telephone Exchange.
1934
• Wigan Beats Warrington 32-19 In A Rugby Match At Shelbourne Park, Dublin. (17th May)
• HM King George V Opens The East Lancashire Road Which Runs To The South Of Wigan. (18th July)
1935
• The 30mph Speed Limit Is Implemented In Wigan. (12th March)
• The First Belisha Beacon Crossing Installed In Wigan. (4th July)
1936
Shops On Standishgate Suddenly Collapse From Extensive Subsidence. (10th August)
1937
Wigan Cattle Market Is Opened (26th April)
1938
• Their Majesties King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Visit Wigan And Surrounding Towns. (20th May)
Newton-In-Makerfield UDC Decides To Change Its Name To Newton-Le-Willows. (20th December)
1939
Newton-In-Makerfield Becomes Newton-Le-Willows, (Previously The Name Of Old East Newton Centred On The High Street), To Avoid Confusion With Nearby Ashton-In-Makerfield.
1940
• Wigan Suffers Its Heaviest Snow Falls Ever Recorded On The 27th January.
• The 27th Earl Of Crawford And Balcarres Dies Without An Heir To Haigh Hall. (8th March)
1941
HRH The Duchess Of Kent Visits Wigan. (24th April)
1942
Wigan's First British Restaurant Opened. (12th January)
1944
• Wigan's Home Guard Disbanded. (3rd December)
• Wigan Shook By An Earthquake. (30th December)
1945
Their Majesties King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Visit Wigan To See Pagefield Ironworks. (7th March)
1945
In The Open Land Between Abram & Platt Bridge A Chasm Opens Beneath Dolly The Train And Its Driver Ludovic Berry, Plunging Them Both To The Bottom Of An Old Shaft Where They Still Remain. (30th April)
1946
• Wigan's 700th Mayor Is Elected. (9th November)
• Nationalised Coal Board (NCB) Comes Into Power- Beginning Of The End For Coal Mining In Wigan.
1947
Wigan Corporation Bought Haigh Hall And Plantations From The Earl Of Crawford And Balcarres For 18,000. (11th March)
1948
H.J. Heinz Arrives In Wigan And Starts Production In A Rented Factory At Standish
1949
Boars Head Railway Station On The Wigan To Preston Line Is Closed. (31st January)
1950
• George Orwell (Real Name Eric Blair) The Author Of 'The Road To Wigan Pier' Dies. (21st January)
Douglas Bank Colliery Is Closed Down By The NCB. (31st December)
1952
Wigan's Mobile Library Comes Into Service Carrying 2500 Books. (29th September)
1954
Queen Elizabeth And Prince "Shoot The Buggers" Philip Visit Wigan And Open The John McCurdy Hall.
1955
The Ministry Of Housing & Local Government Calls For Wide Spread Slum Clearances Many Houses Including The One George Orwell Lodged In Will Be Knocked Down In Wigan.
1956
• The Mayor Opens Wigan's New £46,000 Water Works.
• Wigan Hippodrome (King Street) Is Gutted By Fire And Closed, It Is Soon Demolished. (21st April)
1957
Police From The Lancashire Constabulary Catch Their First Speeders In Wigan Using A Radar Gun And Are Fined A Whopping £2.
1959
• The Queen Mum Opens H.J. Heinz's New £7,000,000 Factory At Kitt Green. (21st May)
• Maypole Colliery In Abram And Victoria Colliery In Standish Are Shut Down By The NCB. (30th May)
1960
Mesnes Colliery Is Closed Down By The NCB.
1962
Wigan Junction Colliery Near Bickershaw Is Closed Down By The NCB. (May)
1963
Dr Beeching Urges The Closure Of A Number Of Railway Stations & Lines Around Wigan. (29th March)
1964
• Wigan Central Station Closed.
• Roman Catholic Churches In Gods Country Read Mass In English For The First Time. (29th November)
1966
• Wigan's £800,000 International Olympic Swimming Pool Is Opened On The Old Pavilion Site.
• NCB Closes Summersales Colliery, Winstanley, Which At 54ft Deep Has Lancashire's Shallowest Shaft.
1968
Kathleen Winstanley- Miss Wigan Goes On To Win The Miss UK Award In Blackpool, Judges Include Tommy Cooper And Englebert Humperdinck.
1970
Astley Green Colliery Is Closed Down, Local Officials Manage To Convince The NCB To Spare The Pit Head And Engine House- Containing The Largest Steam Winding Engine Ever Installed In England.
1972
The Last Regular Canal Traffic On The Leeds Liverpool Canal, From Plank Lane Colliery To Westwood Power Station, Ends.
1973
Wigan Central Station Demolished.
1974
Wigan County Borough Abolished, Wigan And Leigh Boroughs Merge To Form Wigan MBC Part Of The New Metropolitan County Of Greater Manchester. (1st April)
1977
Windy Arbour Colliery Near Winstanley Is Closed Down By The NCB.
1978
• Wigan Athletic Admitted Into The National Football League.
• Bispham Hall, Built Around 1560 For The Family Of The Same Name, Is Gutted By Fire.
1979
• Ten Men Are Killed In An Explosion At Golborne Colliery.
• The Three Sisters Recreational Area, Stretching From Bryn To Bryn Gates Is Opened.
1980
The Legendary And Internationally Renowned Wigan Casino Club Closes.
1982
Excavations In The Wiend Discover The Remains Of An Old Wooden Roman Building Most Probably A Warehouse.
1983
Wigan Hospice Opens Its Doors.
1984
The Wigan Branch Of Woolies Closes- Town Centre Trade Will Never Manage To Recover.
1986
• HM The Queen Opened Wigan Pier.
• Greater Manchester Is Abolished Granting Wigan MBC Further Powers. (1st April)
1988
Wigan Officially Twinned With Angers In France.
1989

• Westwood Power Station Demolished.
• The NCB Close Down Golborne Colliery.

1991
Princess Diana Officially Opened The Galleries Shopping Centre.
1992
• The History Shop On Library Street Opens. (11th May)
• Wigan's Last Colliery In Bickershaw Closes Down.
1993
Wigan Athletic Are Relegated For The First Time Ever From Division Two To Division Three.
1994
• With No More Collieries Left To Close Down The NCB (National Coal Board) Disbands.
• Wigan Rugby League Club Win The RL Challenge Cup For The Seventh Year In Succession.
1995
Harry Bostock Finds A Stone Age Skull In Up Holland. (29th July)
1997
Wigan Athletic Are Promoted To Nationwide Division Two.
1999
The Warriors Legendary Home Ground, Central Park, Is Sold Off And Is Knocked Down To Make Way For A New Tesco Hypermarket.
2003
Wigan Athletic Are Promoted To Nationwide Division One For The First Time. (19th April)

 

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A Wigan Coporation Bus